Hi, I'm Blake. My first game was '89 Doors', a rage game where you escape mazes whilst being pursued by an insatiable creature of hunger, and now I'm working on a tower defence game called 'Forgive Me My Henchman', where you play as a typical head 'bad guy', deploying henchman and sabotaging a building in an effort to stop a one man army action hero.
I recently re-read a Gamesutra article called ‘how to be a terrible game designer’. Amongst other pieces of advice, it warned that not using ANY feedback, or alternatively using ALL feedback are both recipes for disaster.
I believe that there are four different questions you should ask yourself and weigh against each other when you are deciding whether to listen to particular feedback or not. They are:
1) Is the feedback true to your vision? – Every game designer should have a vision for what his or her game will eventually be. He/she should know what tone they want their game to have, how it should make people feel, and the gameplay necessary to make that happen. Would implementing the feedback you’ve been given take you closer towards that vision, or take you away from it? The clearer the vision you have of your game, the easier it will be to know what feedback to listen to and what feedback to disregard.
2) Is the feedback from a credible source? – What I’ve noticed as I enter this industry is that everybody – including people who don’t play or design games – are keen and willing to give you advice. When this happens, remind yourself:
"don’t get law advice from a plumber and don’t get a lawyer to do your plumbing"
Make sure that you are keen to listen to feedback from those who really understand the subject matter and have a track record to prove it, and give less attention to those who don’t. For example, if Matthew Hall, Tom Francis, or Hideo Kojima provide game advice, it is smart to take it seriously because what these guys say carries weight in this field. On the other hand, if Arnold Schwarzenegger – who is not a gamer - gives gaming advice, it is better not listen to it because he doesn’t have the experience or qualifications necessary for his opinion on this particular matter to carry weight (sorry Arnold).
3) How many people are giving you the same feedback? There is a great quote from the movie ‘Lucky Number Slevin’ spoken by one of the main villains:
If you get the same feedback from a diverse range of sources – even if the sources are unqualified - what it means is that a large number of people find that the game is not meeting their expectations in that particular way. At the very least, this feedback is something that you should seriously consider implementing. However, just because many people say it, does not make it right. For example, if you watched the movie ‘Casablanca’ you would know that it does not have a traditional happy ending, but it is the ‘right’ ending, and helped to make Casablanca the iconic movie that it is. So if you choose not to implement the feedback from the majority, make sure that you deeply understand your purpose for not doing so.
One of the questions you can clarify whether the feedback is worth the time to implement is to ask yourself: what features are fundamental to make the game worthwhile, and what features are nice extras but not essential? Knowing the difference between these helps you to balance the difficult relationship between time and quality.
So to summarise, knowing when to implement feedback and when to ignore it rests on answering four questions:
1) Is the feedback true to your vision?
2) Is the feedback from a credible source?
3) How many people are giving you the same feedback?
4) Will implementing this feedback be worth the time it takes to do so?
If you liked this article, please share it with whomever you think will find it interesting. Until next time, have fun and good luck!